One of the greatest Formula 1 machines ever made, the McLaren-Honda MP4/4, is the latest car to get the 1/8-scale subscription model treatment. Not only does it have full engine and suspension detail, bodywork on the model can be changed to mimic the real car’s aero setup, which varied depending on the track it was racing at.
The McLaren-Honda MP4/4 is among motorsport’s most successful race cars. Built for the 1988 Formula 1 season, it had a 94 percent win rate, qualifying for pole position in every race it entered but one, and also winning 15 of the 16 races it entered. It handily captured the Constructors’ Championship, took the Drivers’ Championship 1-2 for legends Aryton Senna and Alain Prost, respectively.
Made by DeAgostini, the model kit follows the history of other 1/8 subscription model kits, but this one is not quite as immersive as, say, the company’s Toyota 2000GT or AE86 models. It comes in 18 monthly installments so it’ll take “only” a year and a half to complete, as opposed to weekly installments spanning over two years for those other cars. The F1 racer doesn’t come with all the peripheral items like books or keychains or display cases, either. This one is just straight-up model kit.
The kit was created with the full cooperation of McLaren and Honda and thorough research conducted on the real car. Most impressively, the internal structure beneath the removable bodywork has been faithfully replicated. There’s precise reproduction of the air intake, wiring, suspension, and brake system. Brake hoses even follow the upper suspension arms.
The turbo ducts on the side pontoons and vents on the bodywork have different settings depending on the track. Similarly, the front wing allows you to change the angle of the flap in order to match the exact setup you desire.
The heart of the machine is the miraculous Honda RA168E engine designed by Osamu Goto, the most dominant F1 engine of the era. The 650-horsepower twin-turbo 1.5-liter V6 had already won two Constructors’ Championships with Williams in 1986-87, and is recreated here in painstaking thoroughness. Parts that you’ll never see once the car is assembled, like the clutch pressure plate, are nevertheless fully detailed.
The cockpit, unsurprisingly, comes with accurate components such as damper adjustment lever, racing harness, shift knob and pedals. The steering wheel is not only removable, but turns the front wheels when connected.
The total cost of this kit? Well, the 18 installments total ¥147,140. That would translate to around $1,400 in any normal year, but the US dollar is so strong right now that converts to a relative bargain at just under $1,100. That’s not including postage from Japan, but since it’s packaged into monthly rather than weekly volumes, if you’re ambitious enough to attempt it at least the shipping will be cheaper. DeAgostini is taking orders until March 31, 2023 but the first installment ships January 24. If you want one you’d better move fast. The kit is limited to 1,000 units.
Images courtesy of DeAgostini.